Prior to joining Sales Focus Inc., I sold a multitude of products. Such products included: Main Frame Computers, Office Equipment, Conference Space, Sponsorships for Media, Academic & Political Conferences, and Promotional Advertising Placement for Print and On-Line publications. One central theme I learned from mentors, colleagues and bosses was: remain positive, it provides dividends on a number of levels and it heightens productivity at the “activity level”. Most importantly, though, I also learned that “success” is built upon failure and that sales professionals must remember that “no” will ultimately lead to “yes”. Simply put, as Sales professionals, we must consistently strive to own that concept and “harness” that belief in everything we do and in every way we interact with colleagues and our respective Teams. Moreover, it is during challenging times, particularly when we are pressed to obtain goal, that we must hold ourselves accountable for the maintenance of this principle. However, I also learned that remaining positive is not a substitute for productive action planning nor, should it be used as an excuse for not holding ourselves accountable for what we are expected to achieve. Provided below are some tips that I try and always remember and, you’ll note they are consistent with our culture at Sales Focus, Inc. There are no magic bullets provided but, sometimes, remembering what we “already” know can make a difference.
One of the biggest challenges that salespeople face is the continual rejection or feeling of frustration. It’s important to have thick skin but it’s even more important to change your way of thinking to keep from getting down on yourself. A natural reaction is to take the rejection personally or to feel you’re not approaching things correctly. With either mind-set, it’s easy to lose confidence. Confidence is attractive but the opposite is true with a lack of confidence, which can set off an ugly chain reaction. When your confidence is shaken, you’re more likely to alienate than attract. Unfortunately, this alienation can lead to an even lower confidence level. The end result is often discontent and lowered productivity.
So, how can you change your perspective? First, stop taking it personally. One of the best things you can do is embrace losses and negative reactions since each one means you’re that much closer to a win. How is that possible? Well, metrics matter. And if you track how many calls it takes to get an Inside Lead or Sale, and how many it takes to close a deal, you’ll see that every success is built on a pile of failures. If you’re closing 40 percent of your jobs, that percentage will likely hold if your approach, message and client needs remain consistent. With an understanding of the numbers, you can start to celebrate the things that would once frustrate you. The idea of cheering when someone is rude may seem preposterous but remember that every “no” means you are that much closer to a “yes.” So, get excited about the losses!
Another tactic is to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. I cringe when I feel I’m being “sold” on a telephone call or by a Outside Sales Representative. It’s a normal reaction. Understand how a prospect may be viewing the act of taking your call or pitch. Respect their time. Be empathetic and be direct. Also, don’t take it to heart if the prospect seems annoyed with your timing. It’s likely you did catch him/her at a bad time but if you can get them engaged in the call, then you can break through any barrier that might have been put up.
Be conscientious and focus on improving your craft but also focus on celebrating small victories. Small victories might be a nice conversation that helps build a relationship. Or perhaps, the call results in a “next meeting” because the prospect is interested in your services or products. Maybe the client asks you to pull pricing together on a project the firm is working on. Even a returned voicemail can be a small victory. Whatever it is, these victories often become big wins. After all, you don’t generally land a huge deal from one phone conversation or one touch!
Success in business development requires persistence and thoughtful follow-through. It’s hard to do either if you’re negative about the process. If you’re having one of those days where you feel like you’re taking a beating, take a break from the phone and focus on some planning. If you need to clear your head, do so, but come back knowing it’s a game and a personal challenge. Your goal is to collect as many small victories as you can. If you keep track and learn to laugh at the losses, you can supercharge your productivity.
Don’t get me wrong, no one enjoys losing. Focus on the victories and recognize any losses as necessary steps to achieving wins. From there, your business development and sales duties will become fun and exciting. Your mental state is everything. Your words and body language impact how you perform as much as any actions you take. If you talk about how horrible your day was, you’re likely to have another bad one and it likely won’t improve any time soon. If you talk about being overwhelmed or having your head under water, it’s unlikely you’re going to get yourself out from underneath it. The words you choose to describe your situation greatly impact your results. In sales, this can make or break you. You probably know people in sales who never seem to be impacted by the predictable negativity of some of their experiences. In addition, they often quickly dismiss such experiences, correctly identify them as being part and parcel to the nature of sells, and jump right back into the saddle after a negative experience. This type of Sales Professional tends to be, and generally are, very productive. Others might equate it to being lucky with the accounts they have or label them as overly optimistic. Perhaps! But more than anything, they don’t let themselves fall into negativity.
Amazed at the difference
I challenge you to change your way of thinking for a week and see what a difference it makes. Focus on positive language and on celebrating small victories. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes if you can hang up from both negative and positive phone calls and/or prospecting experiences with an enthusiastic, “YES!” Losses and discouraging cold calls have to happen but that just means you’re closer to your next small victory and each small victory gets you closer to that big win. Keep this mind-set and you’ll never lose.